Rapha Pro Team Thermal Shorts – review

Insulating, with excellent coverage and elegant detailing

The Rapha Pro Team Thermal Short is insulating, offers excellent coverage thanks to a longer-than-usual leg, and is as stylish as we’ve come to expect from a brand synonymous with cycling elegance.

We tested this winter version of the Pro Team short worn by Team Sky and Rapha Condor JLT in the cold and wet conditions that characterised the end of last year and the beginning of this, and found it able to meet the demands of the season.

The longer-than-usual leg of the Rapha Pro Team Thermal Bib Short offered excellent coverage

The thermal aspect of the Rapha Pro Team Thermal Short lived up to the billing and proved its worth on four-hour rides in which the temperature hovered around the zero mark and in which rain made an occasional and unwanted appearance. Paired with the Rapha leg warmer, we faced the cold with confidence.

The thermal short is longer than its previously tested summer equivalent and this we considered to be of universal benefit. Not only did the extra length rule out any chance of unsightly (and chilling) gaps appearing between short and leg warmer, but it placed the hem slightly lower down the thigh, at a narrower point, reducing the chance of constriction.

The pad improved after a turn in the washing machine. Fresh from the packet, we became aware of its presence after about two hours. The softening effect of a wash, however, proved an effective remedy and all other test rides were completed in absolute comfort.

We’re fans of lycra braces rather than polyester mesh, and were a little disappointed on opening the packet to note their absence, and with it the brushed, fleecy finish that has been a feature of many of the bib-tights to make their way past the gates of RCUK Towers. In use, however, the mesh was not uncomfortable, nor did it leave us cold. We wore the braces variously over polyester and merino base layers, and had no qualms with its performance. The mesh may even have helped to minimise bulk in this part of the short and so contributed to a comfortable fit that placed the braces flat against shoulders.

The neat logos bring to mind the peloton of the 1940s and 50s

Rapha’s trademark elegance is writ large – literally – on the Pro Team Thermal Short. The lettering above the hem of each leg – in chartreuse or pink on the left, and black-on-black on the right – brought to mind the style of the peloton in Coppi’s time. The radio pocket on the bib is unlikely to be of use to Rapha’s paying customers (though doubtless of benefit to Team Sky), but it’s a nice detail.


The Rapha Pro Team Thermal Short has become our latest ‘go to’ item: one we would pull from the wardrobe before all others. The fit was excellent, its performance equal to the demands of the season, and the styling nothing less than the signature good taste that we’ve grown to expect from Rapha.

There are cheaper shorts on the market, but the clue to the performance of this garment is in the title. The quality required to keep a professional cyclist warm and comfortable in the saddle for several hours at a time commands a certain price, in this case £170. Our advice in all aspects of cycling is to buy the best equipment you can afford, and riders willing or able to meet the asking price of Rapha’s Pro Team Thermal Short are unlikely to be disappointed.

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Price: £170
Size: X-small to Xx-large
Colour: Black with pink or chartreuse lettering
Website: Rapha

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